Have You Been Charged With a Crime?

If you’ve been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor in or near the greater St. Louis area – or anywhere in the State of Missouri – you must contact a Jefferson County criminal defense attorney for legal advice and representation as quickly as possible.

Especially if you have never been charged with a crime, every step of the legal process can be frightening and confusing. You could be forced into a police car, left for hours or even days in a jail cell, and placed on trial – even if you are innocent and you have been wrongly accused.

What are your rights if you’ve been charged with a crime in this state, and what should you know about selecting an attorney? If you will keep reading this brief discussion about criminal defense attorneys and your legal rights in Missouri, you will find the answers you may need.

Choosing the Right Attorney May Not Be Easy

Here is an example to consider. You are accused of a serious crime – something like rape or armed robbery – and you are trying to choose the right defense lawyer. The first lawyer you speak to says your best alternative is a plea deal that allows you to serve a reduced sentence.

The lawyer offers to handle the case for a low fee – let’s say $1,000. Nevertheless, you do not want to serve any time behind bars, and you do not want to establish a criminal record. No one does.

The next lawyer you meet says that you can be acquitted – for a $5,000 fee. If you’re an average working person with an average income, which lawyer do you select? People who are sure that they’re innocent almost always pick the second lawyer, pay more, and their case goes to trial.

The first lawyer has offered this hypothetical defendant practical, honest advice at a reasonable price. The other lawyer offers what may in fact be costly wishful thinking. When it comes to choosing an attorney, there is no magic solution, but there are some steps you should take.

What Are the “Dos” of Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

These are the steps you should take when you hire a criminal defense lawyer:

  1.  Be practical and realistic. Even if you’re innocent, step back and ask yourself, what conclusion does the evidence actually point to? Your innocence might not be as apparent and obvious to others as it is to you.
  2.  Talk to more than just two lawyers. You may need to speak with four or five to get a better perspective and understanding of your legal situation.
  3.  Find a lawyer that you genuinely, personally like and trust – someone who has roots in your community and an outstanding reputation. Ask people you trust – friends and family members – for recommendations, and research local lawyers online.

What Questions Should You Ask?

Before you choose or reject a defense lawyer, ask that lawyer the following questions:

  1.  Does your practice focus on criminal defense?
  2.  How many clients have you represented with cases like mine?
  3.  How many times have you taken a case to trial? What were the outcomes?
  4.  How long does it typically take to resolve cases like this one?
  5.  Have you ever faced disciplinary action from the Missouri Bar?
  6.  Do you have references from former clients?
  7.  How do the fees work, and what will your services cost?
  8.  How will we stay in touch, and how often?

What Are the “Don’ts” of Hiring a Defense Lawyer?

These are the precautions you should take when you hire a criminal defense lawyer:

  1.  Do not hire the first lawyer you speak with, even if that lawyer is likable and offers practical, realistic advice. You absolutely need to look around, and you can still hire that lawyer if you fail to find a better match.
  2.  Do not hire a lawyer who does not focus his or her practice on criminal defense. Your cousin’s bankruptcy lawyer and your employer’s business attorney may be quite good at what they do, but they probably have little to no criminal defense experience.
  3. Never hire an attorney who promises a specific outcome to your case. Hiring a good Jefferson County criminal defense lawyer is your best chance for winning justice, but no particular result can ever be absolutely guaranteed in the criminal justice system.

Can’t You Act as Your Own Attorney?

If you’ve been charged with a crime, do not even consider trying to act as your own attorney. The law in Missouri is complicated, and even for a misdemeanor charge, any mistake you make could mean the loss of your freedom.

In fact, if you are placed under arrest, every Missouri defense attorney would tell you to be polite, but remain silent. Police officers still use tricks and intimidation when they question suspects, and even the most innocent answers can be twisted and used against you.

If the police want to ask you questions, you should simply say something like, “I prefer to exercise my right to remain silent until my attorney can be present,” and then say no more, and contact a Jefferson County criminal defense attorney at your very first opportunity.

Similarly, never attempt to negotiate on your own with the prosecutor or with the police. Instead, let your attorney do all of the talking and negotiating on your behalf. If you are offered a plea bargain, consult your attorney before you accept or reject the offer.

Why Should You Choose Grafe & Batchelor?

If you’ve been charged with a crime, don’t procrastinate. It may take some time to locate the right attorney, and your attorney will need still more time to review your case and provide you with the best possible defense.

The criminal defense attorneys at Grafe & Batchelor offer aggressive, effective defense representation to clients who have been charged with crimes in Jefferson County, Washington County, St. Francois County, and throughout the St. Louis area and the State of Missouri.

With over three decades of combined criminal defense experience, the team at Grafe & Batchelor will conduct a thorough investigation of your case, examine the evidence, speak to the witnesses, and protect your rights while bringing your case to its best possible conclusion.

We have successfully defended clients throughout the State of Missouri, and we’re ready to defend you. If you need a criminal defense lawyer – now or in the future – call the offices of Grafe & Batchelor immediately at 636-933-9151 for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.